How the news media has failed women in 2013

There is nothing retro about sexism.

You don’t need to turn the clock back to the 60s through a Mad Men box  set (age rating 15+) nor the 70s via the recent film Anchorman 2 (PG13) to see examples of sexism directed at women – either aggressively or in passive office politics.

In America, and Ireland, we just turn to the adverts in magazines, billboards or switch on the news.

This remarkable video (see from 1:24mins onwards especially), put together by The Representation Project (USA), asks us to imagine a world where the media inspires women instead of degrading them. It is a movement that

“uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.”

It challenges us to consider what’s appropriate and acceptable in the way women are treated and portrayed, particularly in the news media and in advertising, in everyday life.

Demeaning images and chauvinistic attitudes directed at women are not a thing of the past: they are carefully constructed narratives that still look to justify and reinforce men’s power over women.

Could this simply be a ‘Western’ problem found in countries such as America that have been ensnared by the excesses of a bloated consumer society? Is it just a news and marketing problem?

Based on the attitudes expressed by a slew governments to the international women’s bill (CEDAW), this international agreement stands out as the single most contentious piece of international legislation ever put to UN members.

Ireland shares reservations against women’s bill in the same company as 76 other countries, including Yemen, Turkey, UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Pakistan, Morocco and Mexico. The treaty system also allows for countries to change their mind and withdraw reservations, as Ireland has done in the past. It should be noted that the US is only one of seven states in the world that has failed to ratify the treaty.

With all of this in mind, are there videos similar to the Representation Project video that includes both developed and developing world perspectives?

Should there be?

We’ll be following this story closely as it unfolds over the coming year.


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